Gordon Brown has urged Labour MPs to rejoin Jeremy Corbyn’s frontbench team “for the good of the party and the country”, HuffPost has been told.
The former Prime Minister has been offering his private advice to wavering backbenchers, stressing that voters will only back Labour if it is united, one party source said.
Claims of his influence behind the scenes came as HuffPost also learned that internal party data suggested Corbyn will win the leadership race against Owen Smith by 65% to 35%.
A vote of 65% would mean the Labour leader had improved on his landslide victory of 59% a year ago.
Brown has told those unhappy with Corbyn’s policy direction that they must “work from within” to persuade the leadership of their case.
The ex-premier this summer joined Ed Miliband in backing MPs over their vote of ‘no confidence’ in their leader.
But Brown, who said in June that Corbyn’s “electability” was clearly an issue, believes that MPs should not allow the leader to claim “they won’t work with me”, and should at least try to broaden the Shadow Cabinet.
Allies of the former PM say he is taking a realistic approach despite being personally criticised by many Corbyn supporters and his shadow ministers.
Brown is also urging Labour members not to quit the party and give a free run to the Left.
‘Moderate’ MPs too are telling long-standing party members not to desert it, with a message “don’t quit, won’t split”.
One party source said that Brown’s pragmatic approach contrasted with that of Peter Mandelson, who is claimed to have told MPs to stay away from the Shadow Cabinet.
Tony Blair was again scathing about Corbyn this week, claiming his continued leadership of Labour had created “a one-party state” where there was no credible alternative government to challenge the Tories.
And former Foreign Secretary David Miliband broke his silence on the current leadership election on Thursday, declaring Labour under Corbyn was now “unelectable and undesirable”.
On Wednesday, Corbyn himself pledged to “wipe the slate clean” for those former members of his frontbench team who quit after the Brexit vote in June.
Some MPs are preparing to offer to serve under the leader once his re-election is secured when the results are unveiled on Saturday.
But some are waiting for Corbyn to agree MPs will have a say in future Shadow Cabinets, before agreeing to put their names forward.